Friday, June 8, 2012

Squirrel Facts: The Smith's Bush Squirrel

Smith's bush squirrel is one of eleven species known as Paraxerus, or the African bush squirrels. Smith's bush squirrel, also called the yellow-footed squirrel and, in South Africa, simply the tree squirrel, lives in woodland and Savannah regions of Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This is a small species of squirrel. Adults are only about 14 inches long, about half of which is the tail, and weigh about seven ounces. It is a light rusty brown or, in some regions, more gray in color, with a buff or sometimes white chest and belly.

Smith's bush squirrel is mostly arboreal, and diurnal, or active primarily during the daytime. The diet is mostly made up of seeds, but it sometimes will eat insects as well.

Unlike North American tree squirrels, the Smith's bush squirrels live in territorial family groups, with both adult males and females defending territory and nesting together along with their juvenile offspring. The nests are made in holes in trees. Group solidarity is reinforced through mutual grooming.

When threatened by an intruder or predator, the entire family group engages in a behavior called "mobbing." From the safety of a tree, all members of the colony make harsh clicking sounds while flicking their tails, gradually increasing the frequency and volume of the noise. This is probably done more to let the intruder or predator know that it has been seen and the squirrels are aware of its presence, so that hopefully it will move on to hunt in another place.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this information. The sound the squirrel makes in my back garden in Selebi-Phikwe is rather like a bird alarm call. When I first heard it I kept looking for a bird!